I wonder if you would have changed much, but I have to be honest and say you probably wouldn’t have. You were always just ‘Toby’, a shy, slightly introverted, super intelligent and funny young man. I’m sure you would still be leaving your dirty clothes strewn over the floor, left wherever you happened to drop them the night before. You would still have ‘Balti King’ on speed-dial and be staying up all night playing League of Legends and ignoring my phone calls when I called your mobile.
I also know you wouldn’t really be celebrating your birthday; you didn’t when you were 18 or 21, and rebuffed all my attempts at forcing you into a celebration with your friends.
You were a one-off; you were your own person and chose your friends carefully. If you were here I bet you would be sitting round with your mates at Graham’s house, drinking a few beers, watching DVDs and playing on-line games and laughing a lot.
I miss you so much, I miss hearing your voice on the phone and when you used to say ‘Mother’ in that slightly mocking tone, when you wanted something. I miss you calling me ‘retarded’ or some other off colour expression when I couldn’t get my laptop working. I miss waking up in the night and hearing you talking and laughing downstairs when you were playing on-line games with people all over the world. I miss hearing you say ‘I’ll always love you’ every time we said good-bye. I will never see how you turned out, and despite what anyone says I will always feel like I messed up as a mother.
I know what you would say to that. You would say ‘Don’t be so stupid, you did more for me than anyone’. I know that is the truth, but even so its hard. I remember all the times I told you that you would never be able to cope in the ‘real world’, when you wouldn’t get out of bed, how could I have known that that would turn out to be true.
Oh my darling, beautiful, special son, I have so many wishes that I know are pointless, I wish I could have helped you and shown you how beautiful life can be if you had stuck around.
It’s been less than 18 months now since you went away, but it feels like a life-time. What can I tell you about what that time has been like for me, without it sounding as if I am blaming you?
I know if you had been able to see a choice you wouldn’t have chosen to die. I expect if you are with Grandma and Grandpa that they are really mad at you, but I hope they understand that I don’t blame you. I know you couldn’t stand the pain anymore and just wanted out.
I expect you knew that I would cope somehow, you know how good at that I am, but I have to tell you it sucks really badly. I am still ‘learning to live with it’ and have met so many other amazing Mums who have lost their beautiful children. Remember the blog you created for me? It is now a blog about how I am coping and this letter is going on.
So what do I want to say to you my son? I want to say ‘Happy Birthday’ however stupid that sounds as this day is and will always be a celebration of the day you were born. I want to say ‘Thank you’ for the 23 wonderful years that you were here and all the crazy, mad, happy times we had.
You were an awkward little sod when you were younger and in your teen years, but we got through it together and we laughed a lot about it later. I remember one Christmas when we were between houses and we were staying with Grandma and Grandpa and you woke me up about 4 in the morning and nagged me to give you your presents and I said ‘Merry fucking Christmas’, which is a line from one of my favourite films. I was mad for about 10 minutes and then we fell about laughing at the stupidity of the situation and you opened your presents.
Remember when you balled up all your socks and threw them at me down the stairs because I wouldn’t buy you a computer game. Me being a weak, useless mother, I bought it for you later and you hardly played it. I seem to recall it was called ‘Ecco the Dolphin’. We always laughed about that one.
You were strong willed and stubborn and I always thought this would stand you in good stead later in life. We must have watched every episode of ‘Friends’ together and when I watch it now I laugh at our favourite bits. I think our favourite episode is the one where Rachel is jealous of Ross and Julie and she says” He’s gonna stay with her and she’s going to be all, (Mocking Julie) “Hi, I’m Julie, Ross picked me, and we’re gonna to get married, have a lot of kids and dig up stuff together.” I’ve got that one saved on my Sky+ box.
When I saw the other day that there was a new series of ‘House’ I thought – what a shame Toby would have loved that and now he’ll never see it.
But I can’t live with regrets for the rest of my life, and I have a million wonderful memories that can pop into my mind at any time and remind me how special you were and still are to me.
The love you gave me was the most precious gift I will ever have in my life and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. You helped me become the person I am and without you my life would have been meaningless. I can’t let your death define you or me. We are both so much more than just a tragic end. I know you enriched the lives of so many people and they will remember you forever, and your friend Sean has named his son Toby, in your memory. How special is that.
So dear son, I know you are at peace now and don’t have to suffer anymore. I know you loved me and you know how much I love you and always will.
I have Elfie my little dog now, I wish you could have met her, but I have a strong suspicion that you were involved in sending her to me. I feel you near me often and I hope you don’t mind being in the papers and me talking about you on TV, I hope you understand that I want to help others and not tarnish your memory.
You were just a little boy who had lost his way, and I hope you found your way to where you needed to be. I will always love you Toby, Happy birthday my beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy.